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May 31, 2005

The Mayor's Record

Roy Meachum

Incumbent Mayor Jennifer Dougherty boldly announced she actually wants to run against former Mayor Ron Young in September's Democratic primary, bragging that she will put her record up against his, confident voters will endorse her try for four more years.

For openers let's examine events that forced her to make that announcement.

Since last we looked in on City Hall, Ms. Dougherty decided she will not appeal the federal court ruling that backed the attorney general's office and the acting city attorney. Both told her she was fighting a lost cause trying to hold on to the exclusionary three-year residency requirement for potential rivals.

By way of rebuttal Her Honor initially cited her lawyer-brother's opinion that told her what she wanted to hear. When that tactic threatened to dissolve into laughter and catcalls, she went out and hired herself a Baltimore firm. Why not? It wasn't coming out of her pocket.

Of course, Ms. Dougherty didn't bother to run her decision to spend taxpayers' money by their elected representatives, as the charter says. Under our democratic system, aldermen are supposed to provide a check and balance, to keep the mayor from ruling by whim and fancy.

Ignoring the rules has become part and parcel of the incumbent's management style, particularly when it comes to launching actions that put the city at legal risk. By one count, she has been solely responsible for more than half-a-dozen suits awaiting dates in Circuit Court. The only one settled so far awarded over $125,000 to former Weinberg Center director Stuart Seal; of course, that figure doesn't include the cost for her lawyers, borne by taxpayers.

When the latest of her illegal vetoes forced Alderman Dave Lenhart to seek judicial intervention, she accused him of "suing the city;" a stance that contributed to my recent observation that she views herself as an imperial queen, not a mere mayor. Her last-minute attempt to nullify her illegitimate decree simply confirmed the lady frequently acts without thinking of the consequences for the city.

By way of rebuttal, Ms. Dougherty and her claque accuse critics of gender politics, claiming they object to her performance simply because she is not a man. Alleging prejudice based on sex has much to do with the constant rancor that has infected City Hall since she took office. It frustrates and sidetracks any and all attempts to seek compromise, the very essence of how democracy works.

When the incumbent says she wants to talk about her record, she obviously doesn't mean the way she has created tension and strife throughout the ranks of municipal employees. Her precipitous announcement of her intention to fire a round dozen men and women was greeted by admirers as a splendid sample of the mayor's form of open government. To them, it made no difference that she had exceeded her authority by leaps and bounds.

The fact that she was forced to recant, allowing how she wouldn't really fire every one, especially those whose jobs are mandated by the charter, provided farce to what was essentially the tragic savaging of innocent human beings and their families. Of course, being fired abruptly from a position I had held for nearly 20 years puts me in a very empathetic position for what they went through, until aldermen stepped in and nullified the mayor's ill-advised and illegal pronouncement.

When questioned, she takes obvious pride in pointing out her consistency in egocentric behavior; she refuses to acknowledge she has done any wrong. She views as strength an attitude that has made her a wannabe dictator motivated frequently by pique and the desire for revenge. Understanding these fundamental flaws in her character forced me to abandon the support I provided in her first run for mayor.

Whatever her pretensions, Jennifer Dougherty's record reveals profound disdain for humanity; the way she has treated other people, especially city employees, makes her emotionally and morally unfit to hold public office.

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